“I, the Queen's First Black Lord Lieutenant, Do Not Believe the Royals Are Racist”: Sir Kenneth Olisa Speaks Out
Sir Kenneth Olisa, the British Monarchy’s first Black Lord-Lieutenant, has spoken out against the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in an extensive op-ed for the Daily Mail in the wake of last week's controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Writing for the Daily Mail, Sir Olisa asked for “a moment’s pause and reflection” following the claims made by Meghan Markle against the royal family. In the interview, the Duchess of Sussex revealed that a “senior member” of the Royal Family had raised questions regarding “how dark” the skin of Harry and Meghan’s child would be. Prince Harry later confirmed his frustrations with the royal family's inability to ‘challenge’ the ‘colonial undertones’ in the media’s coverage of Meghan.
At the beginning of the op-ed, the Lord-Lieutenant for Greater London stated that “before [leaping] to the conclusion that [the question of the child’s skin] was a vulgar, racist question, we should recognise that we know neither the context nor the intent behind the supposed inquiry.” Sir Olisa went on to recall that he and his wife Julia were asked a similar question by a family member prior to the birth of their two daughters:
“My late mother-in-law, excited about the arrival of her first grandchild, was getting her knitting needles out and simply wanted to know what colour baby clothes would suit the newborn’s complexion.. She asked in much the same way that any of us might wonder: will the baby have her mother’s hair or her father’s nose? Absolutely no offence was intended or taken.. The context of that conversation was a loving family, it’s intent to resolve the question of buying wool — which goes to show that unless you know both context and intent of what people say, you must keep an open mind”.
In light of this, The Lord-Lieutenant affirmed that the “context and intention of people’s comments” should be considered, later praising the Queen and the royal family as a “shining example of probity, inclusivity and decency”. Sir Olisa went on to state that “all [of] the members of the royal family” are “charming and inclusive”, and that in his years of working closely with them he had “never once encountered the slightest hint of racism”.